Singles Ministry

This article is featured in the Families in the Family of God (May/June/July 2013) issue of Circuit Rider

Contrary to the stereotype of “singles” in the church as early twentysomethings, singles ministry is made up of people of all ages and stages of life: those who have never been married, are divorced, widowed, empty nesters, have children at home, and those caring for aging parents. It can be difficult to equate all these persons with one, monolithic “singles ministry.”

Single adults age forty and older, whether never married or currently unmarried, typically share common interests. These groups are easily combined. The most difficult group to reach seems to be the younger adults, age twenty-one to thirty-five. There is a need to offer separate activities based on age. Filling classes with singles is a little more challenging. Most churches cannot sustain an effective singles ministry. Small churches do not have the resources, staff, or leadership to make it happen.

In the Central Texas Conference, we have a Singles Council to organize events for singles across the area and provide support for churches in their individual ministries to singles. This ministry model works well in the Dallas metroplex area, but it is more difficult in rural areas. Our council, made up of one voting member per participating church, meets monthly to discuss the concerns of single adults and the best way to meet those needs. We serve a large geographic area, with multiple churches participating in our events. While leadership is limited to members of UM churches in our conference, our events are open to all singles in our community regardless of church affiliation. We offer a wide range of activities to meet the needs of as many as possible, and communicate these opportunities through our website, Facebook page, and a weekly email blast.

To meet the current needs of our singles, we strive to offer a wide range of programs focusing on personal growth and healing for the individual and leadership development for the local church.

Starting an Area-Wide Singles Ministry

If your congregation’s offerings for singles seem limited, consider forming a Singles Council in your area. Plan an organizational meeting with key leaders from the larger churches in your area, including a staff member from one to be a spiritual mentor to the group. Obtain info on single leaders from each of the churches, large and small, in your conference. There are singles in all churches. Look for potential leaders at the organizational meeting. If a group is organized, you will need to establish people in charge of general administration (chairperson, secretary, and treasurer), educational programming, social events, and publicity.  

Plan a kickoff event—something social with icebreaker games, food, music, and plenty of opportunities to talk and get to know one another. Be sure you have nametags, greeters, and sign-n sheets to get additional info on all attendees. Broadcast this event to ministers, staff, and leaders at each church. Make sure the organizational folk invite their single friends to the event.

Once you've had the event, discuss what made the event a success and plan to meet once a month to keep the momentum going. Dinners, retreats, dances, parties and mission outreach events.

In Central Texas, we have continued a basic format that consists of one major event each year, one smaller event each quarter, a monthly dinner, and multiple smaller activities hosted by local churches. The annual event has grown from a one-day to a three-day retreat. Quarterly events range from “A Day at the Lake,” a one-day seminar/workshop, Chili Cook-Off, and our Christmas dinner and dance. Each month, dinners are held at an area restaurant and hosted by a different church.

Unique Considerations

Some of the things single adults are looking for are group activities, fellowship, spirituality, outreach, and purpose. These are needs common to many demographics, but there are some unique needs to consider when planning your activities for singles.

Care and recovery. Many singles in the church today are “single again” and need support in the form of grief workshops, support groups, and divorce recovery groups, offered at various churches from time to time.

Holidays. Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, we have dinner every Friday night till New Years. This time of the year can be very stressful and lonely for singles, and we want to make sure they have a place to be.

Singles with children. The church still has some work to do in the way it views “the family.” Families are varied in their make-up, and families led by single parents are but one variation. By continuing to prefer the “traditional family,” we not only limit singles’ ability to serve but also overlook those who have gifts and talents for leadership. Include single parents in your family ministries, and offer childcare at your singles events.

Joint custody. While we have not offered events specific to single parents and their children, we do try to schedule activities on the first and third weekends of the month when the custodial parent typically does not have their children. This enables divorced parents to participate without childcare expense.

Tight finances. Offering some no-fee activities and keeping the cost down on others is very important for single-income households. It is a struggle to make ends meet in some situations, and we want to make it easy for everyone to attend our events.


We strive to keep a balance of activities to meet everyone’s needs and to not take away from singles’ involvement at their home churches. It is important for singles to be involved at their home churches by serving as greeters, ushers, singing in the choir, going on church-wide mission trips, helping teach Sunday school to adults and children, participating in book and Bible studies, and more. The goal of singles ministry is not to ghettoize the singles or play matchmaker but to equip single adults to be strong in their faith and to play an active role leadership in the church, and to help churches recognize single people for their contributions of financial resources, time, and talents to the church.

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